Journalists at LA Times, owned by Chicago-based Tronc, vote to unionize

Tronc is spending an outsize amount on salaries and perks for its executives, they say, including an "eye-popping" $8.1 million paid to Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn previous year, more than $4 million spent on a private jet for Tronc chairman Michael Ferro and other costs on executives they say are much higher than what comparable publishers spend.

The move against the media mogul was triggered by a National Public Radio (NPR) report on Thursday.

The Los Angeles Times has given prominent coverage to recent revelations of sexual harassment of women by prominent men, particularly in entertainment and media. In sworn testimony, Levinsohn reportedly acknowledged that he rated the bodies and relative "hotness" of women who worked at AltaVista.

The newsroom employees of the Los Angeles Times have voted to form a union for the first time ever amid growing turmoil at the storied paper
The newsroom employees of the Los Angeles Times have voted to form a union for the first time ever amid growing turmoil at the storied paper

Times president Mickie Rosen "will lead the Los Angeles Times" in Levinsohn's absence, Dearborn said.

The win for the newsroom comes after news that Tronc is investigating L.A. Times publisher Ross Levinsohn after NPR reported his past of sexual harassment and misconduct.

He was also accused in the report of using a gay slur when explaining to an executive why he didn't want to attend a 2013 luncheon held by THR.

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Celia Francis, who also was an Alta Vista executive at the time, reportedly testified in the case that Levinsohn created "a frat house environment" at the company.

The vote was 284-to-44 in favor of joining the News Guild - Communications Workers of America, according to the National Labor Relations Board, which tallied the votes. One attendee from another company recalled that she got onboard, having been invited by Levinsohn to talk business.

It must be noted, however, almost every employee interviewed refused to have their names published and Levinsohn has referred to the allegations as "lies".

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Los Angeles Times staffers have voted to unionize, defying pressure from the newspaper's leaders to abandon the effort.

The 136-year-old LA Times is owned by Chicago-based Tronc Inc., which also owns the Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News and Baltimore Sun among other publications. In other words, the Times has been rapidly cycling through leadership with inky credentials, but no one's been able to fix the paper's problems-so now a newspaper-industry virgin gets to try his hand at saving the day.

Tronc learned of the allegations this week and has launched an investigation into Levinsohn's behavior, company spokeswoman Lauren Pulte told BuzzFeed News in a statement. "We are immediately launching an investigation so that we have a better understanding of what's occurred", the statement read. "We will not hesitate to take further action, if appropriate, once the review is complete".

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Justin Dearborn, the chief executive of parent company Tronc, made the announcement in an email to Times employees on Friday.


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